I just got home from our church service where we discussed and remembered the horrible events that took place in the US on this date 10 years ago. I've been mulling over this post all week long---should I be as open and honest as I'd like to be? Do my thoughts really even matter all that much? Am I so far removed from it all that I have no respectable perspective? This afternoon, I think I want to just take a few minutes and get my thoughts out about this day...it's been a long time coming.
I'll be honest with you, I'm the type of person who approaches things with an attitude of "deal with it and move on". I know that sounds heartless---more than heartless---in the context of the horrific events of 9/11/2001...but stay with me for a minute. As the last 10 years have gone by, I've found myself more and more irritated with the memorials, the remembrance events, the moments of silence, the replays, the photographs, etc. etc. etc....basically, the reminders---every. single. year...on this date. I've been guilty of thinking, "It's over. It was sad. Let's move on now." Of course, those thoughts made me feel guilty, ashamed, heartless...but they were real.
This year has been different. I've been reading the many stories, flipping through the countless pictures, and attempting to watch videos that became very emotionally overwhelming at times, trying to give myself some perspective and see if it may have just been my own selfish immaturity that caused me to be so indifferent to past reminders of the terrorist attacks that day.
I think the bottom line is that for me, life has gone on. It's not that I've forgotten that day 10 years ago...it's that, in the meantime, life has happened. I've had 7 more children since then. I've gone through the death of a baby, countless moves and several job changes, health issues---basically, I've lived and I've let life go on.
Today, I want to take a few minutes and remember. I want to write about that day and allow myself to work through the things that I was too young to work through 10 years ago; because the truth is, that day rocked my world to some degree. It changed my perspective, squashed my innocence and exposed my ignorance---I just didn't really realize that until now.
Though I've not really thought about it before now, I do remember where I was when I first heard the news. Jamie and I were living in our hometown of Baker City, Oregon and our oldest daughter, Lynzie, was about 20 months old. I was 7 1/2 months pregnant with our second child, Michael. I was awake but not yet out of bed when the phone rang at about 6:30 am. My mom had been watching the news early that morning and called me frantic. She told me to turn on the news, that "it was horrible", but she couldn't really get the right words out to tell me what was happening. By that time, here in Oregon, both planes had hit the World Trade Center buildings and our news was showing the videos over and over again. The news people were still pretty shaken up and no one really knew what to say. I remember my mom saying something about this being history and that our world would never be the same.
Thinking back on my initial reaction, it's hard to believe I could be so naive. All I could think as I watched the news videos play over and over was, "how could someone do this to America?" It wasn't the, "how could they be so cruel..." point of view; it was the "how could they be allowed to do this?" In my 21-year-old mind, it seemed literally impossible for someone to attack America...it was as if I believed it was not allowed by some high world law. I was so secure in my status as an American...in knowing I was "free". Didn't "free" mean "safe"?
The attacks happened on a Tuesday. That following Friday night, we headed to the Columbia River to camp with my dad and his wife for the weekend. While the guys were out on the boat fishing, Theresa and I spent hours contemplating all the changes we anticipated happening now that Armageddon was upon us. The gas prices had already begun to rise---although I'm not sure why they did or why they're still where they are. I can remember being overwhelmed with fear that the draft would be reinstated as we prepared for World War III. My husband, only 22 at the time, was easily draftable.
Over the next year or so, I remember being so scared when a plane would fly overhead. I'd either be afraid it was a terrorist or sure it was headed to fend one off. I can remember when I was a little kid and my mom would always say, "look at the plane, kids!" My brother and I would get so excited and we'd watch the plane until it went out of sight---imagining where it was going and what happy people were looking down on us. It just occurred to me that I've never pointed out a plane to my kids. Nowadays, planes = bombs in some subconscious part of me and they're not fun anymore.
Over time, that fear has worn off. I've experienced so much more of life in the last 10 years. I've grown into a "real mom" with pressing issues right here within these four walls. New York and the other affected areas in the East seem so far away---I've lived my entire life within hours of the West coast. I still don't know anyone who lost a loved one or otherwise experienced the attacks personally. I don't drive or walk by the three areas of devastation. For me, it's over and done with and I've moved on.
But today, as I spend this quiet time contemplating this date and what it means for so many people, I am overwhelmed by how much I am truly affected. I'm weeping for the 3,000 children who lost at least one parent that day. I'm hurting for the daughter of the firefighter mother I read about who died after saving countless lives that day. I'm thinking, if it weren't for 9/11, where would these people be now? Would I know any of them? Would I have met them online through BookCrossing? Would they participate in the Pink Saturday blog hop with me? How many marriages would have taken place or children would have been born? How would the entire course of history have changed had these almost 3,000 people lived past September 11, 2001?
In addition to that, what would our world be like? What would the thousands of soldiers have done with their 10 years? What direction would our nation have taken had we not had all this to deal with?
Other than my oldest daughter, none of my other children have ever lived in a USA without war. Despite the fact that I've been relatively indifferent with my feelings about our country, I think I have some of the most patriotic kids around. I have to attribute some of that to their experiences as kids of the 21st century---the millenium that went to war in infancy and finds itself still there a decade later.
So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I sense myself turning over a new leaf in my feelings toward America. All this talk of remembering the date and never forgetting those we lost and those who bravely sacrificed for others has me thinking: of course we're going to remember. Remembering is not the problem---I think the issue is that we don't grow complacent in our remembering. We need to actively remember the horror of 9/11 so we can make conscious decisions to live bravely and to esteem others higher than ourselves.
I want to truly be able to say that I don't live in America, America lives in me. Tonight I'm committed: the next time a plane flies overhead, I'll look up and, with all the excitement I can muster, I'll say, "look at the plane kids," and we'll all wave at the happy people flying above the land of the free and the home of the brave.
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